20 of the best soave wines chosen by Gambero Rosso

May 22 2024, 15:12
Garganega, the main grape variety in Soave wine, is the most important indigenous white grape of Veneto. Here, we present a selection of great Soave wines, all rated with Tre Bicchieri or Due Bicchieri Rossi

Tastings of great satisfaction this year in Veneto, certainly determined by a series of excellent vintages such as 2021 and 2022, which, although diametrically opposed, have given rise to wines with refined aromas, with dynamic flavors of great tension and agility in the former case, and intensely fruity, approachable, and immediate wines in the latter. Here, we focus on Soave wines, which during the tastings for the Gambero Rosso's Vini d’Italia 2024 guide, we found to be clear in their typical aromatic expression and with a fine and lively flavor profile.

The Garganega grape variety

The main grape variety in Soave is undoubtedly garganega, which must be present from 70.0% to 100.0% (the other varieties that can be included are chardonnay, pinot bianco, and trebbiano di Soave up to 30.0%). Garganega is the most important indigenous white grape of Veneto, particularly in the areas of Soave and Gambellara. Its origins are uncertain, but we know that the Verona area has been famous for wine production since ancient times. An agricultural tradition that has spanned the centuries to the present day. We find traces of this ancient vocation for viticulture at the Palazzo di Giustizia in Soave, on whose walls is carved the inscription, "I, house friendly to the law, was erected fifteen lustrums after the year one thousand and three hundred... when the villagers pressed the grapes with their feet."

The Soave production area covers the entire eastern hillside arc of the province of Verona, but the oldest and historically most vocated area is the Classica, located on the hills of Monteforte d'Alpone and Soave. The soils of the hills are of ancient volcanic origin, with predominantly black basalt rocks, tuff extrusions, and limestone veins, which give the wine from this precious terroir surprising and deep mineral notes. The steep slopes of Soave allow for splendid exposures, ensuring perfect ripening of the grapes.

Soave - pre vendemmia 2022 - ©EnricoBrunelli

Garganega is usually trained using the traditional Veronese pergola system. It is a vigorous and productive grape variety, with elongated clusters and beautiful golden yellow berries. On the ancient volcanic soils of Soave and Gambellara, it has found its ideal land. Here it manages to express itself with high-quality levels, offering fascinating, long-lasting wines characterized by a clear mineral profile. When vinified in purity, it expresses an interesting bouquet, with scents of white flowers, fruity aromas, tropical notes, and an almond finish. It stands out especially for its great taste balance, giving the wine body, structure, and a certain softness. Alongside steel aging, which better preserves the varietal aromas of the grape, barrel or barrique aging is increasingly common, contributing to greater aromatic complexity and structure.

Garganega is also suitable for over-ripening in the vineyard, used to make more concentrated and softer wines from late harvests. The grape variety's natural propensity for withering is especially exploited to produce some of the most famous and appreciated dessert wines: Recioto di Soave Docg and Recioto di Gambellara Docg.

The Soave DOC

The Soave DOC, one of the oldest in Italy, recognized by royal decree in 1931, consists of about 7,000 hectares of vineyards in 13 municipalities east of Verona, partly on hills of volcanic origin. Soave was also the first Italian production area to be included in the National Register of Historic Rural Landscapes, followed by the recognition of the GIAHS-FAO (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems), dedicated to agricultural areas worldwide that promote sustainable agriculture, far from industrial processes, and that maintain a close link between landscape, local products, and associated rural communities.

The best soave wines among those awarded with Tre Bicchieri and Due Bicchieri Rossi

Calvarino and La Rocca, both from the excellent 2021 vintage, are the usual thoroughbreds, two Soave whites that follow well-defined paths. Fresher, citrusy, and floral is the first, where acidity and richness move in unison. The second, however, plays on a more mature and complex tone, with yellow fruit crossed by notes of Mediterranean scrub and a timid mineral note. The sip in this case is more measured and deep, leading to a dry and extremely clean finish.

Nestled on the side of the hilly ridge that leads from Castelcerino and Fittà to Soave, the Pieropan family winery is a gem that perfectly integrates with the Soave wine landscape. Andrea and Dario have inherited their father Nino's legacy and run the company with the same spirit and sensitivity, relying on a vineyard platform that now exceeds 70 hectares, managed organically and entirely dedicated to the Soave and Valpolicella grape varieties.

Splendid the Soave Campo Vulcano '22 from I Campi, which smells of white-fleshed fruit and flowers, with a subtle and delicate mineral vein waiting to explode. In the mouth, the acidic tension gives momentum and length to a sip that leans more towards elegance than power. Over the years, Flavio Prà has increasingly limited his consulting activities at other companies, focusing on the growth of his company, founded in 2006. The winery is located in Cellore di Illasi, nestled between the hills to the east and the Illasi stream bed to the west. The vineyards extend mainly on the hills, both in the classic Soave area and in eastern Valpolicella, providing grapes for a production of great finesse and aromatic clarity.

From a garganega vineyard in the Carbonare area planted on ungrafted rootstock, I Rasoli matures in terracotta amphoras for a long time before being presented. On the nose, the scents of yellow fruit and flowers intersect with a subtle mineral and Mediterranean scrub note, perfectly expressed in the mouth where the wine highlights grit, tension, and length. More approachable and immediate in the reading of smoky and fruity notes is Battistelle, a Soave with a rich, juicy flavor profile and unstoppable drinkability.
Hidden among the folds of the Brognoligo hills lies the ten hectares of the Le Battistelle estate, one of the most interesting realities in the Soave district. The birth date reads 2002, but the family of Gelmino and Cristina Dal Bosco boasts a historic relationship with viticulture that has only materialized in the last twenty years in the Le Battistelle project. Alongside them, their children Gloria and Andrea contribute to a production of character and vigor.

Soave Monte Carbonare '21 from Suavia exploits the cool vintage with great temperature variations to offer an interpretation of great finesse. The aromas are clear and fragrant, with white fruit in the foreground followed by flowers and a timid minerality that will gain importance over the years. On the palate, the saline note enriches a slender and elongated sip.

Meri, Valentina, and Alessandra have transformed the company founded by their father into one of the most interesting realities in Soave, supported by a deep bond with this land and its traditions. The Tessari sisters' vineyards lie on the dark hills of Fittà around the winery, on the browner ones of Tremenalto at the northern end of the classic area, and on the steep cone of Castellaro. Garganega and trebbiano di Soave give life to a production of great personality.

The most interesting results also come this year from the black hills of Monteforte d'Alpone, with a more than convincing version of Salvarenza. The 2021 vintage has given a particularly fresh aromatic profile, played on white fruit and flowers, with a subtle minerality resting on the background, waiting to explode. The sip, savory and lively, concludes on a beautiful citrus note.

Talking about the company of Sandro and Claudio Gini is like talking about the history of Soave, the Verona denomination that showcases whites capable of withstanding the test of time with great elegance and identity. The credit is equally divided between the sensitivity the brothers show both in the vineyard and in the winery and the value of the vineyards occupying some of the most vocated exposures.

Great performances this year at Tessari with Monte Fiorentine '21 shining for aromatic finesse and gustatory tension, resulting in a white of character and finesse. Richer, slower, and more complex is Monte Alto '20. When at the end of the last century Ca' Rugate was a small family-run business in the village of Brognoligo, no one could have imagined that within a couple of decades it would become one of the most important companies in the area. The credit is equally divided between the enterprise of Michele Tessari and the foresight of his father Amedeo, who has long left the reins of the company in good hands. Soave and Valpolicella represent the heart of the house's production, but increasingly significant is the commitment also for the durello of Lessinia.

Excellent version of Soave Monte Grande '21. Pure garganega already reveals a timid mineral note crossing a mature yellow fruit enriched by citrus notes. On the palate, the salinity impresses, giving richness and dynamism at the same time, for a satisfying and refined sip. More smoky and sulphurous is Staforte from the same vintage. The territories of Soave and Valpolicella, neighboring and even overlapping for brief stretches, give life to diametrically opposed wines. To the east, agile whites with great drive, to the west all the richness and power of red wines with an ancient tradition. Graziano Prà has always interpreted this distinction with an approach based on elegance and lightness of touch, bringing to life a complex and multifaceted production.

Il Casale '21 shines with extraordinary savoriness and an acid backbone that makes it gentle and rich at the same time. Agostino Vicentini’s company, located on the slopes of Monte Calvarina, one of the highest hills in the area, has always expressed a clear stylistic choice that favors an immediate and slender expressiveness.
The family-run company has always been known for its wines' aromatic cleanliness, the result of careful work in both the vineyard and the winery, focusing on enhancing the varietal characteristics of the grapes.

Interesting work by Dal Cero with Runcata '21. The more untamed and nervous soul that these volcanic soils are able to impart to the grapes emerges from this pure garganega, with an oak passage adding depth and complexity to the fruity expression. Excellent results this year for the company founded in the '30s of the last century, with vineyards spread between the Soave Classico and Valpolicella Classica areas. Here, the focus has always been on enhancing the characteristics of the native grape varieties, in both white and red wines.

Ferra '21 is a Soave from a single vineyard matured in large barrels, with a sharp aromatic profile played on white fruit and flowers, resting on a harmonious and refined palate. Even more smoky and sulphurous is Pieve Vecchia from the same vintage, from vineyards located at the highest altitudes, which has a particularly balanced profile. Talking about the wines of the Rizzardi house means talking about a family that has linked its name to the history of Verona, with estates that date back to the 17th century and today see its vineyards spread between Soave and Valpolicella.

I Palchi '20 exploits the cool vintage to give life to a refined white, capable of combining great aromatic finesse with an admirable gustatory harmony. On the nose, yellow fruit and floral hints dominate, followed by Mediterranean scrub and a background minerality that emerges subtly. From the vineyards on Foscarino, the white protagonist of this year's production of Inama reveals its richness in the sip, with a saline tension giving momentum and energy to the entire tasting.
The company founded in the '60s has always interpreted the Soave area with great sensitivity, giving life to wines of character and strong territorial identity.

Refined the aromatic expression of Le Bine de Costìola '21, a Soave with white-fleshed fruit at its core, surrounded by smoky nuances, citrus, and a timid mineral vein. On the palate, the acid tension enriches a slender and dynamic sip, for a wine of rare elegance. The most significant results this year come from vineyards located on the Monteforte d'Alpone hills, with a particularly balanced aromatic profile and a sip characterized by great drinkability.
The Tamellini house has always been committed to enhancing the native grape varieties, with wines that express great elegance and refinement.

Verso Riserva by Canoso (2018) is a complex Soave matured in steel and glass, offering a deep aromatic profile with yellow-fleshed fruit, flint, and dried flowers. The sip is rich and balanced, with a particularly long finish. Interesting this year the results of the company that, thanks to the vision of the Canoso family, has always believed in enhancing the native grape varieties of the area.

From the highest hills of Monteforte d'Alpone, Foscarino '21 is a pure garganega partially matured in oak, revealing a profile of yellow-fleshed fruit and dried flowers, with a sip of remarkable balance and elegance. Cantina Sociale di Monteforte d'Alpone has always been known for its wines' aromatic cleanliness and elegance, the result of careful work in both the vineyard and the winery.

Monte Ceriani '21 by Tenuta Sant'Antonio is a Soave with smoky and slightly sulphurous aromas, which give way to a clear fruity expression. On the palate, the acid tension gives energy and length to the sip, for a wine of great drinkability and finesse. Federico Zambon’s company, located on the Monteforte d'Alpone hills, has always expressed a clear stylistic choice that favors an immediate and slender expressiveness.

Vulcano '20 exploits the cool vintage to give life to an intriguing Soave, with smoky and charming aromas, for a wine of great balance and refinement. Interesting this year the results of the company that, thanks to the vision of Federico Zambon, has always believed in enhancing the native grape varieties of the area.


These wines, celebrated for their excellence and reflecting the unique terroir of Soave, are a testament to the region's dedication to quality and tradition in winemaking.

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